Hiring a boat surveyor, how does the process go?

I am wondering how and where does the surveying take place. Is it at the lot the boat is in or in the water? Is it done when I've taken the boat for a test drive?

Does the surveyor test the boat in the water too? I am also wondering if the report is good, can the dealer use this to his advantage, making the price of the boat less negotiable?

Lastly, would the report and explanation from the boat inspector be understandable for someone who doesn't know much about boats or are you expected to know what he's talking about?

1 Answer

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The survey will take place on site - where ever the boat is. . . Setting it up when the boat is out of the water, just before your test run - is ideal.

    A "certified boat surveyor" has his reputation on the line for any mistakes. He doesn't really work for any "one person's" benefit other than his own reputation.

    A survey is not a black and white - pass or fail report card. It is a survey - that reports on the existing condition of the vessel. It reports and reveals what is in good condition, and what needs immediate attention, as well as what will need attention soon.

    As to "in the water, or out of the water" - depending on the boat, and the circumstances, a surveyor may inspect the boat under any of these two conditions - or both. Obviously, if time and circumstances permit - inspecting the vessel both in and out of the water is ideal - and will result in the most complete survey.

    Given a choice of one vs the other - I would prefer my vessel inspected out of the water. In this case, they can run a "ultra sound" on the hull - which reveals any and all weak spots, repairs, and thru hulls, that may have been covered up. But - in this case, the surveyor will not be able to report on the condition of many engine and steering functions. . . (under "my" boating conditions and environment - given a choice - I would rather know I am getting a sound seaworthy hull (as that is what I am buying) vs a trouble free engine - as I can repair or replace the engine. If the boat sinks when I am out at sea - I loose my home.

    You will have plenty of time to discuss the survey with the surveyor - and in fact, he will review his findings with you, and if you have any questions, you can ask - for the most part however, it is simple to understand - some nomenclature used may be new to you, but nothing is secretive or rocket science.

    Think of the "certified survey" as the final "handshake" on the deal. With it - both buyer and seller have an expert, unbiased report on exactly what is being bought and sold. The end result of the survey - is knowing full well what you are buying. "Confidence" in feeling safe and secure in your purchase. . . As for the seller - he too (believe it or not) needs to know what he is selling. . . He really doesn't want you or "that boat" to come back and haunt him.

    I have been involved with several deals (my own and some friends) where the "survey" was used to negotiate the final price -


    PS. I don't know the size or kind of boat you are buying, but 'certified surveys' are very expensive. As such, they are seldom preformed on 'trailer-able size' vessels. More commonly, they are done on non-trailer-able, live a-board, size vessels and generally on boats where the boat's loss could result in a loss of life, or present a catastrophic financial burden. In some cases, the bank, or the insurance company may require one.

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